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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

This is the Light at the End of the Tunnel

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

There is a Cure for Miami

I am enjoying Ocala to the point where I almost wonder if something is wrong with me.

When I moved here, the movers screwed up badly. My dad insisted on going for a drive and got lost on the day of the move. My dad overdosed on pills he was supposed to let me measure out for him, and he ended up in the hospital for several days. Hurricane Irma hit me with tropical storm winds and knocked over lots of big trees on the farm. The power went out. I had to bathe in buckets of pool water. The main AC unit in the house died, and we had to fork out $6800. A tenant broke a lease in Miami, and we had to pay $5000 to fix the apartment. Hurricane Irma messed up a yacht I really needed to sell.

Plus it was ungodly hot during the day, and the mosquitoes were so big and numerous they practically lifted me off the ground when I went outside.

It was a bad start.

Now I have a lot of my stuff here. I made a trip to Miami, and a friend also went down and brought things back. The boat sold for more than I expected. I have three chain saws, and I’ve learned how to move a lot of wood in a hurry. The air is drying up, and the weather is cooler. The bugs are going away.

Finally I can enjoy this place.

When you join a moronic street gang, they “jump you in” and “jump you out.” That means they give you a beating when you join, and if you leave, you get another beating. Satan seems to work the same way. Simply moving back to Miami in 1997 was a beating. This year I left again, and the God of Losers came at me again. That’s how I see it.

Whatever. The suffering I endured doesn’t really compare to the eternal roasting my enemy is going to get.

Today I went out to the shop to start my day of hurricane mess recovery, and I felt the cool breeze hit me as I stood on the porch (My shop has a porch!) and opened the door. A crazy wave of pleasure hit me. I was overcome. It’s gross and trite to compare everyday pleasures to sex, but that’s what I thought of. Something went through me and left me a little dizzy.

Today I lit up the burn pile again. I also sharpened the pole saw and made my way into the middle of my woods. I have a bunch of big downed trees in there. I’ve been reluctant to take them on because of the bugs, heat, and standing water. Today was the right day.

I found out a neighbor had cleared away 90% of a big oak that had fallen on a fence. That was nice. I don’t have access to the DMZ between our fences, so I was dreading looking him up and asking how I could get in. Evidently he did not consider me accountable for my tree’s behavior. All I have to deal with is the stump.

I found several trees which fell near each other. Some were on top of each other. I took out the pole saw and got to work. I put in around 3 hours. I murdered those trees. Because the pole saw is so safe to use, and because it can reach things several feet away and things that are over my head, I had access to all sorts of branches that would have been a problem for a chain saw. I cut the crap out of the trees and made a giant pile of limbs and logs.

I had my trusty timberjack with me. What a great tool. It makes short work of heavy logs I could not have dealt with a week ago. They used to be a real pain. Now they’re a joke.

Within a week or two, I should have a clear path to the gate on the highway. Once that happens, I’ll be able to use the tractor to take wood out through the gate and dump it for the county to pick up. I won’t have to burn it!

I’m sad that I lost trees, but just about all of them were worthless oaks. I can plant pecans or something.

Maybe I should do something with that lot. I don’t know how many desirable trees are on it. I like the woods, but maybe I should consider a plan with fewer trees and more grass. Maybe there are pecans and other trees there that I could assist by cutting oaks, and then I could thin out the brush and put in grass.

I do not like seeing the neighbors. I’ve read that bamboo will grow up and form a thick hedge in a year or two. Maybe I should plant a couple hundred feet along the fence line. Bamboo looks really nice, and on top of that, the canes are useful for certain things.

While I was hacking away at a tree, I hit something and knocked the chain off the pole saw bar. It was time to quit anyway, so I headed back to the shop. I had two bottles of cold water from the Rockstar fridge, a Pellegrino orange soda, and an egg cream. It’s amazing how much water you sweat out while using the saws. I sat in one of the shop’s entrances in a plastic Adirondack chair, facing the woods, enjoying my beverages. The breeze blew through the shop and kept me cool. Too much. I loved it.

I goofed off. I texted and called friends. The only thing missing was a smoker with a few ribs in it.

I was so right about this place. That tells me the idea came from God. When I have my trees cleaned up and my bamboo installed, I’ll be the big daddy king of all eccentric hermits.

Some day this will be a place for prayer meetings and God knows what else. Until then I’ll enjoy myself getting it ready.

I just can’t hate Miami enough.

Sorry for not taking photos. I was too engrossed. Maybe next time.

More Disgusted With Miami With Each Passing Day

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

Thank You Again, God

They say the two happiest days in a boat owner’s life are the day he buys and the day he sells. That’s misleading. Selling is WAY better.

The sale of my dad’s boat closed today. That means it’s not my responsibility any more. I will never have to pay for another repair. I will never have to worry about it sinking. It’s gone! Gone! Gone!

The boat was fun. We cruised to Bimini, Eleuthera, Chub Cay, and Key West, among other places. It’s a real privilege to putt by the tourists on a huge cruise ship in Nassau Harbor and watch them wave at you and know they all wish they were you. It’s fun to catch dolphin in the Tongue of the Ocean and tuna off Harbour Island. But my dad is 85 and has no business on a dock, let alone a boat, and there was no possibility that we would use it again.

Boat culture is kind of sleazy anyway. It’s all about getting drunk and fornicating, to be quite honest. You take your boat to the Bahamas, you get a slip, you fish your heart out all day, and then you go to the bar, get drunk, and hope you get lucky. Yacht people are as shallow as ice trays, and nothing they talk about or think about has any real importance. None of it has any relationship to the kingdom of God. If you want to watch fat, drunk lawyers make fools of themselves in Bahamian bars, get a boat.

I don’t recall seeing a lot of doctors over there. But then doctors are not interested in fun. Just money.

What I take away from the boat is that I know how to run one and maintain one. If I ever have to jump on a 60-foot diesel yacht and go to Jamaica, I won’t need any instructions. Just GPS and lots of bottled water, Gatorade, and peanut butter M&M’s.

My dad’s boat was not 60 feet long. It was a 46-footer. But it’s the same thing.

I was starting to think I’d never get rid of that boat. Now I can put it behind me and start thinking I’ll never get rid of my dad’s rental house or the condo we want to dump.

I got rid of the boat, and I also renewed my concealed carry permit. If you’re a Florida person, I learned things that may help you. If you renew your permit by mail, it takes 8-10 weeks. They send you the application about 150 days before the time is up, but if you’re like me, you forget. This weekend I learned you can get your permit renewed at your county’s tax collector office, and they give the new card to you immediately.

I drove to the government building complex. It’s hilarious. Perfect for Ocala. It’s a bunch of brick buildings spread out over maybe 30 acres. It almost looks like a summer camp. I went in the biggest building and saw a gigantic line. I could not complain. I deserved it. But I asked the official greeter, and she said I had to follow some signs and go to another part of the building.

After some twists and turns, I came to a long row of windows and a line consisting of…ONE person. I was at a window in about a minute and a half. The lady who took my photo and did the paperwork could not have been nicer. How can that be? This is the same place where you get your driver’s license. They’re supposed to be rude and condescending, as if everyone admires and looks up to people who do repetitive government jobs.

It was a beautiful experience. I’m sure it’s not as much fun in Miami, though. Down there the tag agencies are staffed by huge, surly women in tights, who barely speak English.

When I finished my other jobs, I decided to look into fixing the bush hog. It didn’t cut too well. Someone on a website said bush hog blades don’t have to be sharp. The idea was that they moved so fast, sheer speed made the blades cut. That turned out to be a fantasy. You have to sharpen bush hog blades, or they just push the grass over.

My bush hog has blades held on by 1-5/8″ nuts. I do not have a 1-5/8″ socket. What to do? I saw someone on Youtube sharpening blades that were still attached, using an angle grinder. Couldn’t hurt to try!

I propped the end of the machine on a jackstand, and I got under there and sharpened the blades. Then I mowed. It’s considerably better. If I got them truly sharp, it would mow like crazy. I think the answer is to get the correct socket and use my bench grinder.

While I was mowing, a gigantic wasp smacked into the bill of my hat. At least I thought it was a wasp. A fraction of a second later I realized it was a spider. It was so big, it felt like someone hit me with a crabapple. Luckily it was not any happier about the situation than I was, and it scrambled off of me before I could have a complete mental breakdown.

I also got my hair cut. I love my barber. His shop has about five American flags out front, along with a big yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag in the center. I don’t even care how my hair looks. That’s where I’m going from now on.

On top of all that, I managed to shift my schedule so I’m getting up at 6:30. This is very important, because I pray a lot. By moving back to 6:30, I make it possible for me to be fed and showered by 9:00. I don’t lose as much of the morning. Nice.

Things are getting better.

Ocala still rocks. Miami is still a humongous butt boil. Every day, I’m happier about the move.

Tomorrow I’m thinking I might sharpen my chainsaws. Can life get any better than that? I may follow up with some target shooting.

I’ll try to post more photos. I’m too busy having fun to stop and take the phone out.

Miami Still Stinks

Monday, October 9th, 2017

Moving North, to the South

I thought today would be the day I was finally free of my dad’s boat. Wrong! It’s Columbus Day. Bank employees are not working. The brokerage can’t have the money wired today. I don’t know if title can pass before the money moves, but the brokerage appears to think it can’t. So I’m on the hook for another 19 hours or so.

In the meantime, I have accomplished some stuff here on the farm. I did some more work on the stupendous live oak that fell on my chicken house, I got a safety chain reattached to the bush hog, I bush-hogged part of the pasture, and I threw a whole lot of wood on the burn pile.

I assume the purpose of safety chains is to keep the bush hog attached in case the three-point hitch fails. I removed one chain because I needed to attach a strap to the pin the chain attaches to. I was pulling a tree down. After I got it down, the chain wouldn’t attach. Suddenly it was shorter.

It turned out the chain had done something physically impossible. It’s too boring to describe, but a chain link moved through an opening it was too small to fit through. No idea how it happened. I adjusted it and got the chain attached.

I’m sick of the piles of dead limbs all over the farm, and I’m tired of their huge masses of brown leaves. I would guess I got a thousand pounds of this stuff onto the pile today. As I expected, the pile was still burning from yesterday, so once I got a couple of forkloads on it, it started flaming up.

In the past, I have been unwilling to put wood on a live fire, because I didn’t want to melt the tractor. What if it stalled by the pile? I’d be in trouble. Now I’ve decided I don’t care. I have to get rid of this wood, and the odds that the tractor will stall and be unwilling to start right when I’m next to the pile are very low.

Like the odds that a hurricane will hit Miami one month after you list a yacht for sale.

Anyway, things go much, much faster if you’re willing to shovel wood on a live fire. You can do three days’ worth of burning in an afternoon.

I’m not sure I’m mowing correctly. The bush hog does not give me nice short grass. It seems to knock the grass over and tear some of the top off of it. This is a lot better than nothing, but it’s not what I want. My pasture is full of bahia grass, which is very tough, and it doesn’t seem to want to yield to the bush hog. I have the RPM’s at the right level, and I lower the bush hog as much as I can. I don’t know what else to do.

I do not like Columbus Day, and it’s not for the usual reasons. It’s not because Columbus was a white man who wasn’t gay and had a holiday named after him. I hate Columbus Day because every year, people in Miami use it as an excuse to cruise around the bay, drunk, stoned, and completely naked, performing sex acts in public.

Miami now has two disgusting holidays. The other is Memorial Day Weekend, which is now part of Urban Beach Week. Sleazy rappers descend on South Beach and scare the crap out of the locals, and they don’t spend money. They bring their own weed and cheap liquor, they pack ten people to a hotel room, and they don’t go to expensive clubs and restaurants. They shoot at each other a lot, so it’s always a good week for the TV news people.

Wait! I’m not in Miami! I have to keep that in mind. I’m on my own farm, with tractors and a shooting berm.

Whew.

Urban Beach Week is funny to watch (if you don’t mind watching a city sicken and die) because it exposes liberal hypocrisy. South Beach is a gay stronghold, and gays take great pride in their far-left leanings. Gays love crowing about the way they support minorities. Now they are watching their Shangri-La disintegrate due to an influx of two-bit gangsters, most of whom are black. There’s a lot of pressure to “fix” South Beach and bring back the days when it was all gays and Europeans, but how are socialist gays supposed to discuss the problem without being PC’d to death? They can’t. Local bigwigs made a sneaky effort to bring in a big air show to break the minority Memorial Day monopoly, and people saw right through it. Amusing.

The weather here got cool, and I was pretty excited, but then it got hot again. By the end of next week, we should have a return to normal October weather. Even with the heat, the sun is milder here than in Miami, and it cools off at night. It will probably be 80 degrees at 10 p.m. in Miami tonight.

I may have to go back to Miami at the end of the week. I sincerely hope not, but I knew when I moved up here that I would have to return from time to time. Visiting briefly is a whole lot better than returning to Miami after visiting some other place. You know it’s not permanent. When you re-enter Miami after visiting…anywhere…it’s like being returned to prison after a month on the run.

There is something seriously wrong with people who like Miami.

I don’t understand people who don’t like Ocala. It’s quiet. The people are wonderful. You can have land. You can have a tractor and a big workshop. You can speak English and be understood. There is good barbecue everywhere.

Some people can’t entertain themselves. They have to be able to go to bars. As if bars were exciting.

I can shoot here. I can use tools. I can ride motorcycles. I can enjoy the outdoors. To me, that’s too much entertainment to deal with.

The other day I saw a pickup truck here with a four-foot-wide Confederate flag flying from a pole in the bed. I thought that was neat. Years ago, I got rid of the only two items I had that had Confederate flags on them, because I don’t want people to think I support the Confederacy’s position on slavery, but I hate the hysteria and self-righteousness currently surrounding the flag. People who want one should be able to fly it. They’re not thinking about slavery. They’re thinking about how much they enjoy being Southerners. If you flew that flag in Miami, you would stand a pretty good chance of being run off the road and beaten. It’s neat that you can have that flag here and not have people take it the wrong way.

Being a Southerner is pretty cool. You get to shoot. You get to have tractors, golf carts, four-wheelers, and ATV’s. You get to drive to the mailbox instead of walking because it’s more fun. You get to be nice to people instead of going through life generating aggression displays like an angry lizard defending its territory. It’s understandable that people would be happy they’re from the South.

This place is great. Miami is a stinking abscess. That about covers it.

I Can Haz Beverage

Sunday, October 8th, 2017

Plus Other Major Achievements

Today has been pretty good. I have had no major crises, and I got a couple of things done.

First, I managed to burn more hurricane wood today. When the weekend started, my burn pile was enormous. I had stopped adding to it because it was so big I was concerned about attracting the law. Yesterday I had an opportunity to light it, and I reduced the pile to a much smaller size.

Today I went out to add more wood to it. Amanda visited this weekend, and she ordered her sons to pile up the branches in my back and side yard. Today I scooped it up with the tractor and dumped it on the pile. As luck would have it, the pile was still smoldering from yesterday, and up it went.

You’re supposed to extinguish debris fires at night, but it’s not that easy to do it reliably. The burn survived an intense cloudburst yesterday, and that should tell you what I’m up against. From trying to light fires, I’ve learned how unlikely it is that a debris fire could spread around here, so I’m not worried.

Second thing: I repaired my Rockstar fridge.

In 2015, a tenant abandoned one of my dad’s warehouses, and we got his stuff. Most of it was garbage, but he left a hilarious mini-fridge with Rockstar Energy Drink logos all over it. I decided to hold onto it. Perfect man cave addition. A couple of weeks ago, a friend ferried it up from Miami, and I installed it in my workshop.

The fridge worked, but it made a noise like a constipated bear, and the little fan that was supposed to move the cold air around didn’t work. I ordered a new 12V fan off Ebay and waited for it to arrive.

If you have a Rockstar mini-fridge, you need to know that your crappy fan runs on 12 volts, and in order to replace it, you just remove the panel in the rear of the fridge. It comes off with four or five screws. You also have to remove one shelf support to get clearance to pull the panel out.

I cut the wires to the old fan as close to the fan as possible so I would not have to run the wires all the way back to the transformer in the top of the fridge. That would have been hard, because the manufacturer didn’t make this fridge to be disassembled easily. I put shrink wrap on the wires, connected them, soldered them, and shrunk the tubing. I reassembled the fridge, and it worked. Now I’m very happy.

I don’t know how much time this fridge has left. Maybe 20 years. Maybe a month. I know it’s running at the moment. That’s a victory. It doesn’t seem to be moaning as much as it was. The evaporator was covered with ice before I repaired the fan. I don’t know if that’s because the fan was dead, or if it’s something else. Anyway, I’ll check the ice tomorrow, while reaching for a cold, delicious Gatorade or ginger ale.

Forgot one other accomplishment. The other day I saw a reality TV guy named John Klump, giving a tip for clearing up cloudy headlight covers. He sprayed Off! on a headlight and rubbed it off with a paper towel. It cleared right up. I was amazed. The headlights on my truck have been looking sad for a while, and the compressor-driven buffing kit I bought didn’t work too well on them. I tried the Klump trick today, and it really worked. Astounding.

Off! has a nasty chemical called DEET in it, and DEET is famous for melting tents when you spray it inside them. I guess it melts headlight covers, too. Just enough to let you buff them with a paper towel. I don’t really know, but it works like crazy.

My headlights don’t look perfect, but they look much, much better. I suppose they could be perfected with more Off!, but I didn’t want to stand there all day, wiping them over and over.

I recommend NOT buying a headlight kit. I’m glad I have a buffer, because it’s useful for lots of things, but it worked very poorly on my headlights.

I hate to post news of these enormous feats and make everyone feel small, but I felt the world needed to know.

It’s wonderful to work in a garage where I can swing a cat without hitting a wall. I love this place.

Time for a beverage.

Growing Pains Continue

Saturday, October 7th, 2017

Cliff Clavin Would be Proud

Life in Ocala is wonderful, although I still have challenges. My dad sometimes decides he doesn’t have dementia, which actually makes sense. Dementia screws up your judgment and makes you forget things, including your dementia diagnosis. I have also had more problems getting rid of my dad’s yacht.

My dad has gotten worse. Dementia never stands still. Over the last few days he has forgotten his diagnosis, and he has been telling me his mind is fine. I tell him he was diagnosed with vascular dementia, and he says he doesn’t remember anything like that. Then I remind him that this proves the diagnosis is right.

He wants to drive. I told him he can’t drive because he gets lost. Then he wants to know when he got lost. Then I have to remind him. Then he says he wants to drive with me in the car with him, which negates the whole purpose of driving. He says he wants to maintain the skill. This could be useful to me, because he could follow me when I need him to take me to get the car fixed. But it’s not worth it, because it will convince him he’s a safe driver.

In December, he will have to take a driving test. I suppose that will put an end to the controversy.

Supposedly, the stage of dementia he’s in lasts a couple of years, tops. It’s too bad he has a contrary attitude, because he only has a short stretch of relative clarity before him, and he would get more out of it if he didn’t fight the truth. One of these days, he will drop another notch, and it may be a big one. That’s how the disease progresses. It could be tomorrow or three months from now. He would be better off admitting the obvious and trying to get right with God.

He has delusions now. He thinks he used to ride motorcycles. He has no idea how to operate one. He told a friend we used to take his boat to Europe. He said we put drums of diesel on the deck to extend the boat’s range. Imagine trying to lift a 55-gallon drum of diesel on a rocking boat and then using it to pour fuel into an opening on the boat’s gunnel.

I knew another man with a problem like my dad’s, but he was a less argumentative person. He had always been calm, rational, warm-hearted, patient, generous, and cooperative. Even after he was unable to look after himself, he was clean, well-mannered, and very pleasant to deal with. Everyone loved him, and he wasn’t a burden to anyone except possibly his wife. Your preexisting personality can shape the experience you have when you become demented.

I had to get a second fridge because my dad’s food habits were too gross to tolerate. I hid it in a closet in the garage, and I put certain items in it so they wouldn’t be defiled or eaten as soon as they made it into the house. I don’t want to eat pickles after he has put his fingers in the jar. Imagine the things he would have on his fingers. I don’t want to use mustard from a greasy bottle with dried mustard all over it. I don’t want to eat Raisin Bran after he has sat in front of the TV and eaten most of the box with his fingers. I would like a chance to eat some cheese or an ice cream sandwich before they suddenly vanish.

These habits didn’t start when he became demented. It’s just how he has always been. Now that he’s demented, he can’t remember when I remind him he has to think about cleanliness and leave some food for me.

He rubs spit on things now. That’s new. He thinks he’s cleaning things. I have to keep Lysol wipes and a spray bottle of alcohol handy.

It’s a big relief, knowing I can have clean food and that if I buy a bag of miniature Snickers bars, it won’t disappear before I get the chance to open it. He ate a two-pound bag of peanut butter M&M’s the other day. Who does that?

He won’t find the fridge because he can’t find his way around the house all that well. He’s not sure where my bedroom is. He can find the kitchen, the garage, and his bedroom, and he can walk around the neighborhood without problems, but he will probably never know there’s a closet in the garage.

As for his boat, it has been a horrendous ordeal trying to get rid of it. When the insurance came up for renewal, the agent said there was no coverage for damage. Just liability. This was my dad’s idea. I decided to follow suit, because I was listing the boat with a broker. How likely was it that a hurricane would hit Miami in the two months it would be on the market? Yeah, okay.

Irma showed up. She tore up the boat’s canvas and did some other damage, and I thought I was going to take a big hit. I had a stressful week thinking about it. Then one day I started praying for God to get it sold, and I thanked him over and over and gave him glory, saying, “because it’s done.” A few minutes later, the broker said we had two offers for much more than I expected. We accepted one of them. Then the bilge pumps acted up. I wrote about that a few days ago. If you read about it, you know that “Carlos,” our dubious boat mechanic, installed a new pump. I thought the pump saga was over.

Carlos said water was coming from a rotted head hose. He said he couldn’t close the seacock to keep water out while he replaced it, because it was stuck, and if he applied pressure to it, he might break it and let in enough water to sink the boat. This is a lot of BS. You can replace a seacock on a docked boat by having someone go over the side and cover the opening with a toilet plunger while you work. I know this because Carlos has done it. I wrote about this earlier.

You can pound a stopper into a through-hull if the seacock breaks. Everyone knows this. It’s not like mankind has been sailing for thousands of years without coming up with a few solutions to simple problems. It’s not like every boat with a hole in it sinks. Human beings aren’t that stupid.

Anyway, I thought the problem was fixed, but the broker went over the next day, and Carlos’s pump wasn’t working. The broker got it running, closed the seacock, and got the water pumped out.

Thanks again, Carlos.

Why did the broker go over the next day? Because he’s a responsible adult who cares if the boat sinks. He’s not just thinking about getting a check and running off.

I texted Carlos just to have my low expectations confirmed. He did not disappoint. He gave me a bunch of Bart Simpson excuses, including, “It was working when I left.” He started saying he would go over and fix the rest of the wiring. Yes, instead of apologizing profusely, he decided to award himself another profitable job. No, that would not be necessary. The sale was supposed to close the next day, and I didn’t feel much like paying another Carlos bill. I told him not to bother.

I found out I could move the closing up by sending the required documents early, so I jumped on the chance. I got them notarized and sent them the fastest way I could. On Wednesday, I used the Postal Service (You can see where this is heading) to send them by two-day Express Mail. They were guaranteed to arrive by noon Friday.

Hallelujah! Problem solved! The sale would be final on Friday! Not my boat, not my problem!

Then Friday came, and the delivery confirmation text didn’t come.

The Postal Service didn’t deliver the envelope in time. I spent over $80 for nothing, and I was facing two more days with a leaky boat on my hands.

I tried to log into the USPS site to get information. The site said my account was disabled. It referred me to a page to fix it. That page told me to create a new account, which had nothing to do with the problem. I called. The robot said the wait was at least 20 minutes. I tried their email contact page. I filled it out and clicked, and I got a page saying it wasn’t working.

Today I got my dad in the car, and we sent more documents using UPS. This is a real company that occasionally delivers things on time. We spent $91, and then we sat down at Bob Evans for breakfast. Ten minutes later, I got a text. The Postal Service had delivered the documents.

Okay.

The boat has to remain afloat until Monday morning, when the closer signs off on everything and has the money wired to my dad. I have around 40 hours of prayer ahead of me. After that, if it sinks, it’s the buyer’s baby. They had it surveyed. They have a mechanic. They know it has issues. Their responsibility.

Hurricane Irma knocked the boat around. The broker has messed with the wires. Carlos has puttered around with the wires. The buyer’s mechanic has been on the boat. It’s not an ideal situation.

My dad says the boat is in “tip top shape.”

I contacted friends for prayer. I don’t want to take chances. I need this boat gone.

I got an amazing answer to prayer when the offer arrived. Then I had all these problems. Am I getting resistance from Satan? Sure seems that way. But he’s the little one who loses, and God is the big one who always wins. I have to remember that.

I might shoot again tomorrow. Today I got an opportunity to set fire to our huge burn pile, so next week I’ll have an opportunity to clear more wood. Tomorrow it will be hot, so I think I’ll just shoot. Today Amanda and her sons came over, and I made pizza and garlic rolls.

If you have a minute, please pray the boat stays afloat until it gets to the Cayman Islands and that the sale goes through on Monday. I would be very grateful.

Things are going to get better. The current hurricane is headed somewhere where I don’t have land, my dad is not in the hospital, I have sanitary food, and sooner or later the hairs I burned off my legs have to grow back.

Here’s a photo of the burn pile.

Thanks for the Advice

Sunday, October 1st, 2017

The Opposite of Nostalgia

Today I was thinking about all the problems I have. I still have a bunch of big trees to cut and move. We are having a mosquito plague that beggars description. I still have to get my machinery moved from Miami. I have to get a house down there fixed up and rented. I gave myself a sunburn on one wrist and one leg using the welder. I added all that up, and this was my conclusion: I HATE MIAMI. THANK GOD I’M NOT IN MIAMI. I LOVE IT HERE.

So things could be worse.

I remember what some people said to me when I used to criticize Miami. “If you don’t like it, leave!” Sometimes they said, “Get the f___ out!”

I did! I left! Great advice! Muchos gracias!

People thought I wasn’t serious about leaving. Yeah, okay. They don’t know me very well. I’ve been trying to get out for years.

“Get the f___ out!” Always nice to get polite advice from good friends.

What do I miss about Miami? Still nothing! Nothing, nothing, nothing. Not the traffic. Not the rudeness. Not the ethnic tension. Not the near lack of seasons. Not the perpetually moldy smell of the air. I don’t miss paying ten bucks for a McDonald’s breakfast. I don’t miss having my unpleasant neighbors right up my nose as soon as I walk outside. I don’t miss not being able to shoot without driving for half an hour and paying a fee to be monitored by killjoy range officers. I don’t miss having a tiny, cramped workshop. I don’t miss not being able to talk to people because they’re too lazy and selfish to learn the language of the generous country that saved their lives.

I have two friends left in Miami. Two, after decades of living there. Guess what? They hate it. They hate it so much they want to move all the way to Virginia.

I know other people there, but we have drifted apart. Not including the couple I mentioned above, I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t be surprised if I called.

Well, I do have my house sitter. He has to stay there for another year because he’s in college. But he hates Miami, too.

Last week a friend had to go to Cudjoe Key to check on a rental house he owned. I let him sleep at my dad’s house in Miami, and he brought me a lot of stuff the movers left behind. I have my Rockstar beverage fridge! I have a guitar amp! My sawzall is here! I have my compressor hose reels! I even have one of my big soup pots, plus my huge pressure cooker!

I still have no steam iron, but that’s okay, because I hate ironing.

Yesterday Amanda and her kids came down for a visit, and I made collards, ham hocks, neckbones, hoe cakes, soup beans, and sliced tomatoes and Vidalias. We also slapped together some oatmeal cookies, from the recipe in my book. It turns out the book is wrong; they’re only supposed to have about 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg in them. Anyway, it was a great feed. First real home-cooked meal I’ve made in months. Sometimes you need a big pot.

My laundry facilities are better than hers, so I told her to use them when she needs them. In return we get some company.

There are some things I had to replace after I moved. Example: my old-man tweezers. When you hit a certain age, hairs sprout all over you. You can either pull them out or watch them take over. I don’t mind buying tweezers, because tweezers are among the products we make a whole lot better than we used to.

It’s a good thing we got out when we did, because my dad’s condition worsened abruptly after our offer was accepted. It would have been a lot harder to move, had we waited. Now he has a big bedroom suite and a living room all to himself. He has a safe place to do his daily walking. His quality of life is much better. He isn’t tempted to drive. Looking after him is way easier here, and when things get worse, we’ll be surrounded by people who are experts at caring for old people. And they speak English.

He has started having false memories. The other day he told someone we had taken his boat to France and Italy, with extra diesel in drums on the deck. I sat there hoping no one would ask me about the trip.

Dementia is very strange. Dealing with a demented person is like walking through a house that has been hit by artillery fire. Some parts are totally sound, and others are just plain missing. Depending on what you talk to my dad about, you may be able to get very reliable input from him, but if you enter one of the damaged areas, the floor collapses under you.

Up here, he’s relatively safe from telemarketers and other swindlers. He doesn’t have to worry about close relations showing up on his doorstep, making wild accusations and demanding money. He’s less likely to be preyed upon by financially shaky, morally flexible middle-aged ladies who have suddenly found themselves drawn to octagenarians.

The weather has changed. I think. The forecast for this week is running seven to ten degrees lower than last week. That should make tree clearing easier. I’m told we will get bug relief after the first cold snap. That will be nice. Mosquitoes hate me, but there are so many here right now, even the outliers that find me tasty are able to cause problems. And because of the heat, sweat has been washing the repellant away.

Weather sites list the mosquito outlook as “EXTREME.” I would go along with that. And it makes sense. There is still standing water from Irma.

I can’t wait for better weather. The outdoor work has to be done.

I’m considering getting weights for the tractor. The guy who sold it to me left a bush hog on it for weight, but the bush hog gets beaten up a lot while I drag it around. It doesn’t lift completely off the ground. It would be a pain to switch weights for the bush hog, but it might be worth it. I would have more maneuverability, and the bush hog could be tucked away in the goat shed to rest.

A 1000-pound set of weights runs about a grand, but there is probably someone around here who has an old set to sell.

I had to weld the bush hog again. The welds I put on with a stick electrode broke when I hit a stump. They were really bad welds anyway. I fired up my generator and used the MIG to replace them, but I’ve had some problems. For one thing, the generator surges for some reason, and that makes the wire feed switch on and off. I may need a new torch cable liner to reduce resistance.

I don’t know what it will cost to get real 220 installed in the garage, but it’s a must-do.

That’s all I have right now. I am still here. I am still very, very, very glad I left. Hope to post more photos in the future.

Miami is a Festering Rathole

Friday, September 29th, 2017

My Chicken House has Been Liberated

People were giving me suggestions on moving the big oak that fell on my chicken house. Here’s a photo showing what has happened to it.

I used the pole saw to clean up the top of the oak as much as I could, and then I sawed through the base. After that, I put a strap on the trunk and pulled on it until it fell off the maple the oak was trying to kill.

I am sick of oaks. They’re worthless, and they choke out better trees.

Now I have to start moving wood to the side of the county road, where it will be picked up free of charge. The problem with this plan is that my property has a ditch paralleling the road. To put the wood down, I have to drive the tractor along the side of the ditch. It leans over. Supposedly, you can lean a tractor 20 degrees without killing yourself, but I am new at this, so I don’t like any lean at all. I keep the front end loader low, but it still feels unsafe.

The pole saw made all this possible. A regular chainsaw is a vastly inferior tool. My advice to anyone who has to clear up fallen crap is to get a pole saw, even if you can’t get a regular chainsaw to go with it. The pole saw will do most of what the chainsaw will do, but the chainsaw will only do a little of what the pole saw can do.

I cut 12″ limbs with the 12″ pole saw with no problems. It was slow, but it beat getting up next to them and being killed when they broke free.

Things are looking up, and I’m still FREE OF MIAMI!

Man, I hate Miami. What a miserable city. I pity every decent person who lives there. I miss nothing, nothing, nothing about Miami. Moving out of Miami is like being healed of cancer.

My house sitter keeps telling me all the godly people he knows are moving out, and he thinks disaster will come when enough of them leave. Whatever. I can’t save the world. I’m just glad I’m in a better place, among much better people.

I’m Home!

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

This Place Rocks

Things are settling down here. I am learning new things in prayer, and I am trying to apply them. The unexpected financial drains are easing, the hurricane cleanup is getting easier, and I am starting to feel at home on the tractors.

Speaking of feeling at home, Ocala is suiting me better and better. It’s the craziest thing; I wanted some acreage, and I have it. I wanted tools and machinery, and I have them. I wanted to be around people whose mindset was more like mine, and I’m among them.

Back in Coral Gables, I used to get up and throw on Carhartt work pants and sneakers, grab my carry piece and my folding knife, and go about my day. I do those same things here, but because this isn’t Coral Gables, these things don’t make me weird. No one says, “Wow, you have a truck.” Everyone dresses pretty much like I do. I’m amassing a collection of ball caps (because you can’t wear bluetooth hearing protectors with a cowboy hat), and now I look like every other ball-cap-wearing Southerner in the county. The only thing missing is a can of Skoal, making a round bulge in a back pocket.

Come to think of it, people don’t seem to dip snuff here. Good for them. The spit is disgusting, and when you get Skoal cancer, they remove your face from the nose to the neck.

It’s very strange, being able to go outside without feeling I’m under scrutiny. Most of the time, people can’t see me when I’m outdoors here. I don’t have to worry about Jehovah’s Witnesses, blacktop gypsies, or fake Omaha Steaks drivers. The only leaf blower I ever hear is my own. I never hear a three-minute ear-splitting blast from a roach coach horn. I never hear the sound of my neighbors dragging their lawn waste onto my property.

If it weren’t for the ravenous bugs, I would be able to relax completely here. Irma produced a mosquito tsunami, and it will be a while before it subsides. Today I surrendered and Off’d myself before leaving the house.

Yesterday I went outside and shot 50 or so rounds without alerting anyone, calling the Sheriff, or asking my neighbors’ permission. It feels so natural. It’s how things worked when I lived in Kentucky. I hate suburban life.

Now that my feet are starting to touch bottom, it won’t be long before I start visiting churches. The feeling of fitting in will surely increase. I won’t drink the prosperity Kool-Aid, but I’m sure I’ll meet people who think it’s perfectly normal to wake up on a Monday morning and spend three hours in prayer.

Wow, I just got a big break. I received two offers on my dad’s yacht. I have been dying to get rid of it. We tied a lot of cash up when we bought this house, and we need to dump the excess baggage. On top of that, we could use the slip rent. I was starting to think the boat would never sell.

We offered it for a certain price, and nothing happened. We put it up for sale near the beginning of August, and nothing happens in Miami in August. We got one bad offer. Then Irma hit. She tore up the boat’s ancient canvas and messed up the tuna door, and we had no hull insurance. My dad didn’t carry it, and when I found that out, I decided not to renew it. We were going to be rid of it in a few weeks. What were the odds a storm would come through?

I thought we were going to get around $20000 less than the figure I originally wanted, but today the broker called and said someone is offering $2900 more than what I expected to clear. I said, “Take it. Take it. Take it.” I am not going to be greedy. I want that boat gone, I want the slip rented, and I want to sell it for a 1031 exchange next year. Or maybe I’ll just continue renting it, if the rent is good. I don’t think it will be.

I have that feeling you get when a big weight is taken off your shoulders. Shaky and drained. Thank you, God. That boat had become a curse.

Why did the boat sell all of a sudden? I think I know. The other day, I got a miracle healing. I wrote about it. It wasn’t a big healing. I blistered my finger, and the blister disappeared overnight. The way I prayed for that healing was unusual. First of all, it was very fervent, because I hate burns. Second, I kept praising and thanking God “because it’s done.” I kept this up for a very long time.

It worked for my finger, so I did it with the boat, today and yesterday. I also did it with the house we’re trying to sell. After prayer today, I expected to hear news about the boat. And I did.

I also ask for the following things for the people on my prayer list: I ask God to send people and spirits to pay us, to give things to us, to do our work for us, to give us advice, and to fight our battles. Today the broker said he had personally fixed up the boat’s batteries so he could get the generator and starboard engine running (an unpleasant job), and he wants to rent the slip for us with no commission. He isn’t required to do any of those things.

Now, will God come through on the rental house? If so, I will be too happy to live. That house has been an anchor around my neck. I never wanted it. My sister ruined it and forced us to take it over. My dad, frankly, was extremely unpleasant while I was getting it repaired. The contractors were liars and idiots. I want to see that house sell. NOW.

Oh, man. My cell phone just dinged. The pole saw I ordered is ready at Home Depot. I was about to go anyway, for mailbox letters, malathion, and maybe hydraulic fluid. This is perfect. That saw will bring down strongholds. There are things I just could not cut with a regular chainsaw.

I am giddy. Time to hop in the SUV (because the truck needs an alignment), cruise to Home Depot, pick up my goodies, and relax.

I’ve been cursed, and I’ve been blessed. Blessed is better. I hope my testimony will help you find relief.

Pro-Abortion…for Bugs

Monday, September 25th, 2017

Mosquitoes Must Pay

This week’s big farm challenge–big NEW farm challenge, along with the ones I was already handling–is mosquito control.

I have a pond. I will guess that it’s a hundred feet long. It’s dry most of the time, so presumably, no fish. When it rains a lot, the pond fills up. It slowly drains into the surrounding soil. I am told this is a “detention pond,” not a “retention pond.” A retention pond holds water permanently, and it will have a device that lets overflow run out.

Because I have no fish, I have nothing but frogs and bugs to eat mosquito wrigglers.

After Irma, the pond filled up, and it kept filling for days. It taught me new things about flooding. Flood waters don’t stop rising when the rain stops. Not everywhere. Crazy.

I don’t know how long the pond will have water in it, but based on what I’ve seen, I’ll bet it will be wet for another month. In the meantime, I have a lot of mosquitoes. What do I do?

I looked up products made for killing mosquitoes in ponds. They sell tablets full of a bacterium that kills mosquitoes. Treating a giant pond with these tablets would be very expensive. Generally, they’re used in tiny suburban koi ponds, although I had success when I threw a bunch in a neighbor’s green pool.

The tablets won’t work. What about malathion?

I considered dumping a whole jug of malathion in the pond. It’s supposed to be very safe for human beings. They say our blood neutralizes it. But what if science is wrong? I have well water, and I suppose my neighbors do, too. I don’t want to be the guy who gave them deformed children and tumors.

Fish are not worth discussing. I could dump some minnows in there, but they would only live until the pond dries up again.

Here’s what I’m thinking about using: vegetable oil. Mosquito wrigglers can’t breathe in ponds covered with oil. A gallon of cheap oil should cover the pond nicely. I’m told it will also kill the other bugs, which I’m supposed to like, but I don’t like them, so I don’t care. Also, how likely am I to have important water insects in a pond all by itself, a quarter of a mile from the next pond? I doubt I have anything resembling a real ecosystem. My pond was created by guys with backhoes, not the good Lord or the random forces of nature.

There are three negatives to the Ocala area: bugs, bad soil, and weeds. The soil tends to be sandy, so it’s not ideal for anything except constructing shooting berms. The woods here tend to produce more annoying weeds and thorns than they do farther north, so if you want to enjoy your wooded property, it’s best to get out there and clear the crap out. The bugs are beyond description. There are gigantic banana spiders all over the place, and their webs are thick and tough. We have huge acid-spraying walking sticks wandering around. Termites are ferocious here. Fire ants are everywhere. And we have a whole lot of really big mosquitoes.

At least we don’t have roaches. Well, we do have roaches. We have the biggest roaches this side of Africa. But they don’t have any interest in coming indoors. Also, I think the other bugs are murdering them wholesale. I haven’t seen many of them.

I really hate the banana spiders. I would say a typical specimen has a three-inch leg span, and the body is like a small grape, which means there is a lot in there to squish out if you kill one. Banana spiders put their webs between tall objects such as trees, which means they put them in places where you are likely to walk. Then you get a faceful of sticky web, possibly containing an angry spider the size of a mouse. And they bite, supposedly.

I plan to get some oil and see if I can kill the mosquitoes. Malathion is tempting, I have to admit, but it’s a little too bold for me at this juncture.

Over the next couple of weeks, the weather is supposed to get cooler, and the dry season should start soon. I am told the bugs will succumb.

Hurry up, fall. Bring death to my little enemies.

Irmageddon Relief

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

The Government IS Good for Something

I got some good news today. The Florida Bar is extending the September CLE (Continuing Legal Education) deadline for certain people, and the city of Ocala is going to pick up my dead trees.

This is big. CLE is a complete farce, but it’s time-consuming. So far, I’ve endured 17 hours of thinly veiled advertisements masquerading as educational materials. Lawyers who want to raise their profiles create boring lectures and distribute them for nothing, and a software company called Rocket Matter has joined in, filling the Bar’s site up with free “edvertisements.” You can pay for CLE which is somewhat less tedious, but there is no reason to do that, unless boredom is something you just can’t endure. Real CLE is expensive, and it’s generally just as useless as free CLE.

Quality CLE can be very helpful when you have a specific need to fill, but when you’re just trying to make the Bar happy, it’s like setting the tables at an abandoned restaurant. The Bar probably thinks it impresses the public, but the public has no idea CLE exists, so mainly, it functions as a way to raise profiles and make money for CLE providers.

A suspicious person would bet that the Bar’s bigwigs have personal connections to the CLE industry, and that they have hidden incentives to keep it running, but I have no evidence of that, apart from my basic knowledge of human nature and politics. Maybe nobody is in cahoots with anyone, but if that’s true, it would be pretty remarkable, given the way government entities operate. Maybe CLE providers never take anyone from the Bar to dinner or let them play on their golf courses or fly them off to highly informative seminars held at resorts or in Las Vegas. I have no idea, but after half a century on this planet, I can’t help but wonder.

Technically, the Bar is not a government entity, but the state Supreme Court is in charge of it, and the state oversees it, so…whatever.

By the way, whether CLE is a farce depends on whom you ask it and under which circumstances. If you ask a lawyer in his office or a courthouse elevator or on the golf course, he will scowl and tell you it’s a farce. If you ask him in front of a TV camera or at some kind of public appearance, he’ll tell you it’s the backbone of legal professionalism and an essential structure that holds up our sacred art.

I have to do 13 or 16 more hours of CLE, depending on which official Bar publication I believe, and the deadline is a week from now. That’s too much. Fortunately, the Bar has decided to let Irma victims have another month. Whee. See you in October.

Here’s what I’ve learned from the CLE I’ve done so far this cycle: computers and the Internet virtually guarantee that any lawyer who isn’t an IT expert will be sued and lose at some point during the next decade. The pitfalls are too numerous, and we are just too stupid to avoid them (We’re not doctors). Nearly anything a lawyer does with data opens the door to a lawsuit. You’re only safe if you do everything on paper.

I won’t check, but because I know how the world works, I can tell you that somewhere out there, there are lawyers who specialize in suing other lawyers who screw up with data. The smell of rotting flesh will always attract bugs and vultures. Computers opened a wound on the legal profession, and the leeches and bats will flock to it to suck, just as they suck on the pharmaceutical industry, police departments, and anyone who manufactures anything.

Rocket Matter is some sort of practice-related software. It helps attorneys keep their practices running smoothly. I’ll give them credit. Their free lectures scared me a great deal. I don’t see what I can do to protect myself, though, short of refraining from practicing. Which happens to be the road I took.

As for the city and the dead trees, the announcement takes a load (literally) off my mind. I have been cutting and burning trees for a while now, and I expected it to go on for months. Now the city’s website says they’ll haul wood if we put it by the road. Fantastic. Yesterday I realized I was developing a mountain of ash, and it made me aware that my cut-and-burn strategy had a serious flaw. What do you do with tons of wood ashes? Now I won’t have to find out.

I will still have to cut and move trees, but I won’t have to burn them, and I won’t have to store them within my fences. Bonus: I won’t have to mow the swale by the highway, because it will be covered.

Now if someone will just volunteer to move my machine tools up here from Miami…

Feets of Strength

Saturday, September 23rd, 2017

Tennis Shoes Just not Cutting It

Today’s big news: I got myself some new boots.

I’ve been here a month, and I’ve been doing a ton of outdoor work. I came here in a new pair of Nike tennis shoes, and that’s what I wore up until today. I had to retire them. They were not up to the job.

After Irma, there was standing water on parts of my property for…well, there may still be some. There are still twigs and branches everywhere, and they reach out to scrape my ankles when I walk. I’ve used chainsaws a lot, and they shot wood chips into the tops of my tennis shoes. From there, the chips found their way all the way down to the toes.

I have a few pairs of boots, but I wanted work boots. I had motorcycle boots (actually uniform boots), hunting boots, and some kind of Timberland insulated boots. I sprang for something new: Danner 8″ work boots with some kind of uber-plastic protectors in the toes. When you cut wood with a chain saw, it falls, and I did not want crushed toes.

The boots I bought are waterproof, with lots of Gore-tex. They have plenty of padding. They’re roomy enough for thick wool socks which keep my feet dry. I am in love.

I’ve always liked tools. I like getting the right tool for the right job. Sometimes the wrong tool takes three days and makes you miserable, and the right tool takes fifteen minutes and doesn’t raise one bead of sweat. Shoes are tools. I had the wrong tools for the job, and they were a major hindrance.

Today Amazon brought the boots, and I put them on as soon as I saw the box. I went out and started hacking up a fifty-foot live oak that was lying on its side in the big pasture. It was wonderful. Nothing hit my ankles. My footing was solid. When I needed to kick things, the impact didn’t come through the thin sole of a tennis shoe. Nothing dropped into my socks and migrated down to my toes.

I could have worn the Timberland boots. I’m pretty sure I haven’t worn them since law school. Once I experienced Danner boots, I could not go back. Timberland boots are not very good. People don’t know that, because they haven’t tried anything better.

I got my first pair of Timberlands when I went to Columbia University. I was a Florida kid, and on October 10, I believe it was, we got 8 inches of snow. I figured it would be like that all winter. I bought a down jacket, wool socks, and Timberlands. They were the classic Timberlands. Reddish leather, about 7″ high, with plastic collars around the tops (probably to save Timberland money on leather).

I kept those boots for a few years, but they eventually rotted, and the soles fell off. I had another pair of Timberlands made largely of fabric, and they didn’t last, either. I got the last pair in the Nineties, and I’ve probably worn them fewer than 10 times. They’re stiff, like wood. They keep the cold and damp out, but then I haven’t worn them enough to get them to leak.

Danners feel like big running shoes. Total comfort. They are truly waterproof. They come with various levels of insulation. They never seem to wear out. You will pay at least $150 for a decent pair, but that’s only about 7% more than Timberlands, and you will get a completely different level of quality.

Timberlands are crap. Trust me. It’s no wonder rappers like them, because rappers are the same people who buy Beats headphones instead of Sennheisers. If Dr. Dre endorsed horse manure, rappers would cram horse manure in their ears.

Here’s something neat about Ocala: you can get real work clothes. You can walk into a store and be surrounded by Carhartt. I won’t have to buy my stuff online any more. Danners can’t be found around here, but pants, shirts, jackets, and overalls will not be a problem.

I didn’t realize how much my feet hindered me until I started cutting wood in real boots. Suddenly, I didn’t even think about my feet. I didn’t worry about where I stepped. I didn’t feel things attacking my ankles. Really nice.

As for the tree-cutting, I learned new things. I learned that Spanish moss will stop a chainsaw. All the trees here are covered with moss. I have stopped my small saw three times by catching moss in it. Very annoying.

I also learned that chainsaws have a sacrificial tab the chain hits when it comes off. I made some kind of booboo while fixing the moss problem, and my chain came loose. It stopped instantly, and when I looked at it, I saw that a little detachable metal tab had been bent. Neat feature. Chainsaws are a lot better than they used to be. Very impressive.

I spent about two hours dismantling the tree. I would say I got about 15% of it done, but it was a very critical 15%. You can’t just go up to the base of an 18″-thick horizontal oak and start hacking at it. The tree is resting on its branches, and God only knows which way they’ll throw it when I cut them. I started at the top and methodically cut everything that didn’t have tension on it and moved it away. Before long, I was able to cut off one of the tree’s three main branches. The tree is defeated now. I made it much more accessible and predictable.

I’m waiting for a pole saw with a 12″ bar to arrive. There are some things I should not cut with a regular saw. Some are too high, and some are too scary. A pole saw will allow me to cut things higher than my head, and it will also let me stay seven or eight feet away when I cut things that look dangerous. The 12″ bar isn’t very big, but most pole saws are 8″ or 10″, so compared to them, it’s a monster. I should be able to cut things 10″ thick, and that will cover just about everything I need a pole saw for.

What I’m doing is a lot of work, but I enjoy it because I have good tools. I throw the saws into a gas-powered golf cart, ride to the tree I have to cut, and have at it. I can keep water and other tools in the cart’s dump bed. I wear good polarized safety glasses, and I have a Worktunes bluetooth hearing protector playing Christian music in my ear the whole time. If I had to do this work with a crappy little Poulan saw and haul everything in an SUV or a pickup, and I didn’t have Julie True singing in my ear, it would be a very bad experience.

I’m very glad I didn’t buy the first saw I saw in a store after Irma, because the first saws I saw were cheap. I’m also glad I got two saws instead of one. Today one saw got bound in a limb, and I used the other saw to rescue it. A four-foot pry bar was useless. If I hadn’t had two saws, I would have been in a pickle.

The little Jonsered is nimble and powerful. The big Echo is a light saber. Point it at a limb, and it falls off.

I need to get a hard hat. No one wears a hard hat while using a chainsaw. No one except a professional who isn’t a total idiot. I plan not to dress like a total idiot, even if it makes me look odd. Most people who use chainsaws are ignorant, and they wear jeans, tennis shoes, and baseball caps. A lot of people don’t use hearing protection. Whatever. I want to keep my hearing, and I don’t want skull fractures from falling wood.

I’ve thought about getting chainsaw chaps. They’re made from kevlar. The kevlar comes loose when you hit it with the blade, and it chokes the sprocket, stopping the saw. Interesting thing: it doesn’t work with electric saws. They have too much torque. Anyway, today I had moments when I was able to see the wisdom of wearing chaps.

I have some plastic wedges on the way. I could not buy them locally. They prevent saws from getting pinched the way mine did today. It’s amazing how stores let the ignorant shape their inventory choices. No chaps. No wedges. These are things every chainsaw seller should stock.

It’s about time to learn how to sharpen a saw. The Jonsered seems to be cutting a little finer and slower than at first. I already have a couple of files for the job. I should pick up some extra chains. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

I’m hoping that in a couple of weeks or a month, the weather will permit me to wear long pants and a long shirt. Also, the bugs need to die. The wet weather has turned this area into an entomological playground.

Time to take my precious boots off and get in the shower. Maybe I should leave them on.

In a couple of months, I should have this farm looking normal. I’m sad to lose so many trees. The damage didn’t look too bad right after the storm, but then I found out trees continue to fall for days. I must have twenty big trees that didn’t make it. Anyway, I will get them cleared. Maybe I’ll get my band saw up here and turn some of the trees into lumber. The live oaks are useless, but water oaks have wood like red oak, and I may have lost some hickorys or pecans.

I will never lack for firewood or barbecue wood. That’s for sure.

Sorry I don’t have a bunch of photos. I was just too caught up in the work. Here’s a shot from yesterday. It’s the small pasture, after I cleared a bunch of crap.

I will leave you with a shot of my boots. Throw out your Timberlands and pick some up. You will not regret it.

The Curse of Ethanol

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Farm Life has its Challenges

Nothing really terrible has happened to me in several days. I’m wondering if something is wrong.

I’m still working on clearing tropical storm mess from my land. I refuse to call it “hurricane debris,” because I don’t want to play into the irresponsible hype we get from the ratings-crazy press. Marion County did not get hit by a hurricane. It received tropical-storm-force winds from the periphery of a hurricane. If it weren’t for the fact that there are so many rotten trees here, there would have been almost no damage at all.

This county is full of oaks that are rotten in the middle. I did not know this before I moved here. I didn’t know I had highly dubious trees on my property. Now I know, but a number of trees are already resting on my fences.

People here claim water oaks are the big problem. They rot very well. They say live oaks don’t fall in storms. I think that’s wrong, though, because I’ve been looking at leaves when I collect branches, and it sure looks like I have a lot of live oak leaves.

In Miami, live oaks did very well when Andrew hit. It seems they didn’t do as well here. I don’t understand that, because here we have soil. In Miami, the dirt is a few inches thick, and beneath that, it’s oolite, which is solid coral rock. I don’t know how roots can hold onto that. Anyway, I have a bunch of trees to get rid of.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to deal with the larger trees. Some of these boogers are a couple of feet thick, and they’re propped up at odd angles. I don’t want to be crushed when they shift as the saw cuts through. I do not want to hire a tree service. That’s big money. If I do have to hire one, I want to limit their work as much as I can. I can move the trees myself. I just need someone to put them on the ground.

I suppose it’s time to go online and learn about cutting trees.

If you’ve never cut a tree before, you probably think it’s simple, but it’s not. Say you have a tree sixty feet tall, and you want to cut it at the base. That means it can hit anything within sixty feet when it falls. What if there are things within that distance, which you don’t want hit? What if it’s already leaning toward your house? What if it starts falling when you cut it, in a way that puts your life in danger? Can you outrun a falling tree?

Here’s another big issue: saw pinching. If you have a broken tree which is more or less horizontal, when you cut it, it will sag at the cut. That means the kerf will close on your saw, possibly with tons of force. How do you prevent that? Maybe I need wedges. The tractor has been useful, because I’ve been able to hold trees up and saw off the free ends, but that won’t work with really big lumber.

My second chainsaw–the big one–arrived a couple of days ago. I haven’t run it yet. The little one has whizzed through everything I’ve cut so far. Sooner or later, I’ll have to run the big one.

Now that I’ve lifted the big saw, I see why people like little saws. You would have to be nuts to use a big saw on everything. It’s just too heavy and awkward.

I’m going to go out and light the burn pile again today. It’s gigantic now. I’m toying with the idea of throwing a gallon of diesel on it first. I got myself a big jug of charcoal lighter fluid. It may be sufficient, and when it’s empty, I can refill it with diesel, which should be cheaper.

People have informed me that I need to use more oil in my saws than the manual suggests. Evidently, the EPA has decided to ruin all of our small engines in exchange for a tiny decrease in pollution. The manual says to add oil at a ratio of 1:50, but people are telling me to go 1:40, so I will do that.

Yeah, I care about pollution. I care about as much as our government does, which is to say, very little. The government passes crippling legislation that makes money for greenies and still allows a whole lot of environmental damage. I’m not going to screw up my equipment so I can abide by useless feel-good legislation that accomplishes nothing.

Still wondering what the government does with the monumental amount of CO2 ethanol fermentation produces.

I bought regular gas for my small engines, and I have learned that this was a mistake. Regular gas is full of ethanol, which ruins carbs. I wish to God we would give up the ethanol farce. When I was saw shopping, I saw cans of premixed fuel at the store, but I thought it was for sissies who didn’t want to use funnels. I learned that the real benefit is that it’s ethanol-free.

There are gas stations here that sell ethanol-free gas, so I think the best move is to fill a big can and mix it with oil.

In other news, I fixed my bush hog. The previous owner hit a stump with it and tore a corner of the apron loose from the deck. He popped two welds. He says I should keep the bush hog attached to the tractor because it counterbalances the brush forks, so the bush hog will have to remain attached until I become aware of a better solution. Weights, maybe. The bush hog seems to take a considerable beating while I move the tractor around, and it makes thumping sounds. I thought (incorrectly) that the apron was banging against the deck, so I decided to weld it.

I had some obstacles to overcome before I could weld. Mainly, I had no 240 receptacle for either welder (TIG or MIG). The TIG will run on 110, and it also does stick, so that was an option. Also, I now have a small generator that will pump out 20 amps at 240, and that will be enough for MIG.

I decided to try stick, and I also ordered an adaptor to hook the MIG up to the generator, on the assumption that my stick efforts would fail.

I got myself some E7018 electrodes from Home Depot, and I started grinding off the old welds and trying to realign the apron and deck. I didn’t realize the apron had been bent in addition to being snapped off. Short of heating the apron with a huge torch, there is no way to straighten it. It was bent so the top of the apron, where the old weld was, moved inward just enough to make the deck shelter the old weld, making it very hard to grind out.

Anyway, I got it ground, and I put a Strong Hand clamp on the bush hog to hold everything together. Then I set the TIG up for stick, using settings I got from the web: AC and 85 amps.

Right away, I flashed myself. I thought the welder’s foot pedal controlled the stick stinger, so I put the stinger down on the bush hog while I got ready to weld. When I picked it up, the tip contacted metal, and I got an arc. It was very brief, but I have no idea how much arc flash is too much, so I was concerned. I didn’t have any problems, so I guess it wasn’t too bad.

When I started welding, I stuck the electrode about a thousand times, and the arc kept crapping out. People are telling me to go DC next time. The welds are incredibly bad, but they are strong enough to hold until I can redo them. I plan to grind them out and try stick again before giving up and MIGing them.

I thought I didn’t need the generator, but I decided to keep it when I realized it gave me mobility. With a generator, I can run big power tools all over the farm. I can use the rotary hammer, the welders, and maybe even the plasma cutter, if it’s set low enough. I can use air tools. To me, that’s worth the $500 cost of the generator.

If you’re in a storm area, here’s a tip: even if you don’t buy a generator ahead of time, buy and set up the wiring doodads that make it work. You can buy all sorts of generators in Ocala right now, but good luck finding the plugs and receptacles to connect them to anything. My generator has a ridiculous RV receptacle for 240, so nothing useful will plug into it. Get yourself generator-ready now, and you may have cold beer the next time your power goes out.

When I use the generator, I’ll have to put very small amounts of gas in it so I can run it dry. I don’t want ethanol eating my generator so it won’t run when I need it.

Man, I hate ethanol. What a disgusting, greed-motivated boondoggle.

Time to get out there and burn some trees. Maybe I’ll post a photo.

Burning Man East

Friday, September 15th, 2017

Work is More Fun Than Play

I am almost too wiped out to blog. That’s saying a lot, since I write for recreation.

Yesterday God gave me a miracle. I found a decent small chainsaw in the Ocala area, available for store pickup. This week, that’s about as easy as finding a bar of soap in a room full of Bernie Sanders supporters.

I was checking various sites to see how fast I could get a small saw. I have a big saw coming Monday, but I’ve learned that big saws are not for small saw work. Big saws are heavy and awkward. Little saws won’t cut big trees as well, but they’re easier to use on limbs and so on. I have an abundance of big trunks and small limbs to deal with.

I may as well pass on what I learned, since someone else may find it useful.

There are apparently three levels of chainsaws. First, there are really expensive chainsaws you should only buy if you plan to use a saw every day at your job. Forget those. Then there are solid saws that cost considerably less. Then there is crap from China. You don’t want crap from China.

Yesterday I visited Rural King, which is like Tractor Supply’s mother, and they had some good saws, but the small saws they were selling were dubious. They had Poulans, which everyone on the web seems to hate.

I don’t know anything about the high-end saws, but I learned a few things about the second tier.

A lot of people like Stihl, which is German. Are they actually the best, or is it that closet-Nazi chic that makes BMW buyers so gullible? I don’t know.

Another popular brand is Husqvarna. This Swedish company makes lots of stuff. They used to make motorcycles. I don’t know if they make them today. The problem with Husqvarna is that some of their lower-end saws are…crap from China. Or at least crap that isn’t from Sweden. Evidently, you have to be careful and check the labels.

Echo is the Japanese company that ruined life on earth by inventing the leaf blower. That’s the word on the street, anyway. They make very nice saws. You can get them at Home Depot, unless you’re me and you need one to clear away tropical storm debris. It’s surprising that Home Depot sells something nice.

Here’s another brand: Jonsered. It’s Swedish. The main reason it’s Swedish is that it’s really Husqvarna. If you buy one, you will actually see the word “Husqvarna” on either the saw or stuff that came with it. Jonsered is sold at Tractor Supply. I don’t know who else sells them.

Why Husqvarna has a separate brand selling the same things is not clear to me. Maybe some of their saws simply identify as Jonsered.

I was fooling around on the Tractor Supply website, and it unexpectedly told me I could pick up a Jonsered CS 2240 locally. I figured it was a mistake, but it was worth a shot. I ordered it, and the order went through. I figured I would get an email the next morning, telling me the saw didn’t really exist. I assumed someone at the store would sell it to his beer buddy and tell me to get lost. Miraculously, I received an email saying the saw was ready for pickup.

The CS 2240 is a 40 cc saw with a 16″ blade, which means it’s light and handy. It sounded like just what I needed. My neighbors have pretty much cleared their yards, and I’ve been so busy and tool-deprived, I’m way behind. I had to get something to get me started. I can’t cut big oaks with this, but I can do 80% of the cutting I need to do.

Today I got the saw running, and I moved a huge amount of wood to the burn pile using the tractor. I would be lying if I said this wasn’t fun. I love hydraulics. They turn people into superheroes. Remember Ridley fighting the queen Alien in Aliens? That’s me on the tractor.

The saw was wonderful. The last gas chainsaw my family unit possessed was a used McCulloch, I think. Back in the Seventies. It ran okay, but it was nothing like the Jonsered. The Jonsered zips through hard oak like nobody’s business. It was a pleasure to use. It made me wonder what the big saw will be like. I’ve never used a big saw on hardwood.

I had to quit because I know nothing about small engines. I followed the manual as well as I could, but I flooded the saw and could not get it to function. The only reason I’m tired tonight is that I pulled the saw’s start cord about 3000 times. After I quit, I went on the web to find out what I had done wrong.

I found an authoritative-sounding video that said I had to take the spark plug out and dry it off, and that I had to empty the excess fuel through the plug hole. Bummer. Then I found a small engine repair guy with a much better video. I’m going to tell you what I found out.

When you start a chainsaw cold, you have to use the choke to cut back on air. You also have to squoosh the chainsaw’s priming diaphragm to get fuel to the carb or whatever. If you do either of these things a little bit too much, the saw’s cylinder fills up, and then you will be completely unable to start the saw by following the worthless manual.

To make the saw run, you have to get rid of the excess fuel. Here’s how you do it. You start it while holding the throttle wide open. You may have to yank the cord a number of times, but eventually you will blow the fuel out, and the saw will run. Forget taking the plug out. Forget waiting for the saw to dry.

Wish I had known that today. I had no idea what was happening, thanks to the manual.

It makes sense. When you flood a carbureted car, the solution is to floor it while you turn the engine over.

I have to burn my trash wood. I’m nervous about it. I’ve never done it before. I picture my face on the news, over the words “DIY ARSONIST.” I can’t believe it’s safe to burn wood near wooded areas, but apparently it is. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, because campfires are pretty common, and we still have forests.

I have what must be a few tons of wood waiting to be burned. I need to get it going because the burn area needs to be emptied so I can get rid of more wood.

I don’t see how green wood is supposed to burn, but I’ll light it and see what it does.

The bigger downed trees are intimidating. Today I looked at one that has branches maybe forty feet long and ten inches thick. One big branch points up at a 45-degree angle. If I saw that sucker where it joins the trunk, I have no idea what it will do. It may slide toward me and smear me across the ground like peanut butter. I have to decide what I can do safely and what I can’t. The Jonsered is intimidating. The big Echo I have coming will be a whole different level.

I’ve used a bigger saw in the past. A long time ago, I did part-time work for a tree service. But I wasn’t the boss. I had someone with years of experience telling me what not to do. Now it’s just me.

I’m trying to be intelligent. For example, I lift trees with the tractor so the parts I saw off will bend down, not up, when the saw goes through. If a tree bends in a V at the cut, it will pinch the saw, and then you’re done until you can get it out. I also put the tractor’s forks under heavy stuff before I cut it, so it will drop gently onto the front end loader. Today I cut a piece of wood that had to weigh 400 pounds. I can’t put that on the loader. It has to want to be there.

I am too tired to post photos.

It’s pretty cool, having a tractor, a chainsaw, and a golf cart. The tractor is useless for carrying things, so I put them in the cart’s dump bed and take the cart to where I’m cutting. Then I move the tractor there and get to work. There is nothing like having good tools. Work isn’t unpleasant when you have what you need to git ‘er done.

A friend is coming by tomorrow. I think I’ll just cram some more brush on the pile and let her rip. I don’t have to wear out the chainsaw every day. It’s going to be a while before the downed trees are gone.

Thank God I’m not in Miami. I would rather be here sweating on a tractor than doing just about anything there.

Reverse Looting

Monday, September 11th, 2017

I Hate Miami More Than Ever

I am using my most precious commodity, electricity, to let you know how I’m doing.

Irma came through last night. As always, the predictions were overblown. We got considerable wind, but it was no hurricane. Not here. I lost a number of big trees, but the house and workshop are fine. We have no power, so that means no water.

My friend Amanda brought her three boys, and we all survived.

This morning I started clearing the mess. I didn’t have a chainsaw. There was a big tree across the driveway, and there was nothing I could do. I had to drive around it.

I went out on the golf cart to check out the neighborhood, and I met a neighbor, running around on his 4-wheeler with his daughter on the back. Right away, that picture is promising. It got better. He’s an ex-Marine from North Carolina. He said his house was the one with the Marine Corps and American flags out front. Okay!

He said he had a tractor, if I needed help. I said I had a tractor but no chainsaw. He said, “I have a chainsaw.” Just like that. Doesn’t know me from Adam’s housecat.

We exchanged contact info.

Amanda had to ferry her dogs and sons back to the farm where she lives, and when she came for the dog, we sat down and discussed God for a while. She told me some of the horrible things that had happened to her. Example: her parents refused to pay her prep school tuition, so her diploma was withheld for two years. She went to a crappy college, and she then applied to Harvard, where she was accepted. Her brother sat her down and said she needed to stay on the farm and look after her mom, who insists on living on the farm and telling everyone what to do even though she is indigent. The local college was good enough. Mind you, her brother is an attorney, not a mentally retarded person who bags groceries.

Anyway, we had a long and productive talk, and then I got up and went to the front of the house. I could not see the big downed tree. I went to take a look. Someone had cut it in pieces and moved them off the driveway. Yes, while my former neighbors in Miami were breaking in stores to steal $300 sneakers, my new neighbors were sneaking onto my property to clear away hurricane debris.

I texted one of them and asked who did what so I could thank them. I offered to help with whatever they were doing, but they were already shutting down. Figures. I would like to be known here for something other than stealing newspapers.

I didn’t steal newspapers. Not exactly.

There are two newspaper boxes out by the road. Ours is the bottom one. When we first came here, I took the paper from the wrong box, and I had to apologize profusely. Then a few days later, I had another newspaper problem.

I bought hurricane food. By this I mean junk food. Things you can eat without preparation. Yesterday morning, while I was getting ready for the storm, I found out my dad had been raiding the food. Great. I had to drive out and look for more. I found one gas station that was open, and I bought six double Snickers bars. Best I could do.

When I was on the way back in, I stopped by the mailbox. I grabbed the bag containing our paper. The paper boy had put it in the bag with the open side facing in, so when I pulled the bag, the paper fell out on the wet ground. I picked it up and went in the house, where I saw my dad…reading the newspaper. He had taken the neighbors’ paper again, and now the only replacement I had was wet.

I had to text them again, apologize, and let them know my dad was demented. They were very nice about it. I told them to take our newspaper at will, pretty much. This is the history I am now trying to live down.

I have learned to use the tractor. I have a few photos. I moved debris a few hundred yards, from the yard to the burn pile. Yes, I have a burn pile. I figured out what the forky thing on the front end loader is for. It’s for grabbing brush and dumping it. Yes, I just happened to move to a property that really needed a tractor with an attachment for moving trees and brush, and lo and behold, the tractor was there waiting for me.

I love using the tractor. Farm work doesn’t pay well, but on the other hand, it’s much more pleasant than office work. I have always enjoyed it. Now I’m pretty much obligated to do it, every week.

I’ll upload some photos of the tractor and burn pile.

This move has been very bad in some ways and very good in others, but whatever happens here, you could not pay me enough to get me to move back to Miami What a craphole. Excuse my language.

I’m off. If the power comes back on, you will hear more from me.

Getting Ready for Company

Saturday, September 9th, 2017

One More Day

I am still awaiting the winds of Hurricane Irma.

Today was uneventful. I bought two more flashlights, some rope, a can of WD-40, work gloves, a barbecue lighter, and lithium grease. Stuff I clearly needed. I drove around my yard picking up fallen branches and tossed them in the truck, and then I drove out to the burn area in the big pasture and dropped them there. I moved the big tractor out to the pasture and left it there so my friend Amanda will be able to put her SUV in the workshop during the storm.

The fallen branches are not from wind. There has been no wind. Ocala is a lightning magnet, and I am surrounded by tall trees that get hit a lot. Branches die and fall. Then I get to pick them up and burn them. I’m doing this so our moderate winds won’t blow them into the house.

I will not complain about that. I have a farm. I have a pickup truck. I have a burn pile. This is the kind of stuff I used to dream about. I keep thinking about Psalm 37:4: “Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”

The storm track still looks pretty good for me. Miami’s somewhat-upsetting forecast has not panned out. It’s supposed to be blowing pretty good in Miami now, and I just checked and saw a figure of 9 mph. Gusts to 11, I think it said. Sooner or later, there will be wind, but I see it this way: if the forecast is wildly pessimistic at 6 p.m., it will probably be wildly pessimistic throughout the storm. If they’re predicting 74, maybe Miami will get 45.

I’m still not happy with the weather gurus. My dad’s dementia makes him forget what he knows about the forecast. The TV agitators get him wound up over and over, and I have to keep explaining what’s really happening. The hurricane is on every channel, so it’s inescapable. He has always spent several hours a day glued to the tube, and that habit is not going to change. He will be hearing about extinction-level Irma until two days after it’s over. So will I.

The ninnies who keep exaggerating the storm’s consequences should have to come here and comfort him, along with every other dementia patient they’ve upset. I’m not the only one who has to deal with this. Other people are making the same complaint.

Whatever happens will be over with in two days. I look forward to that.

I really, truly do not want to do without air conditioning and running water. There are certain minimum standards I expect my habitat to meet. I remember the times I’ve spent sitting indoors, watching drops of sweat fall off my nose, wondering when the power was coming back on. I do not want to go through that again.

I hope my tractor isn’t lonely out there.